On July 30, 1975, James R. Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, disappeared without a trace. In 1982, he was declared dead. No body has ever been found.
A prime suspect in that disappearance was Teamsters Local 560 President Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano. In fact, Hoffa was actually on the way to meet Tony Pro when he disappeared.
A member of the Genovese crime family, Tony Pro ruled Local 560 with an iron fist. Anyone who opposed him had a way of winding up dead.
Hoffa and Provenzano’s beef seems to date from prison. Whether Tony Pro had other reasons for wanting Hoffa dead isn’t known.
Today, I went in search of the remains of this history. Tony Pro’s Local 560 Union Hall is in Union City, NJ, a town that was once heavily Italian but is now mostly Hispanic. Though it has changed since Tony Pro’s day, its working class roots are very much intact. Nearby are Tonnelle Avenue and the Lincoln Tunnel, where many of Local 560’s members drive their trucks every day.
Looking at the door to the union hall, I imagined a small, bespectacled man leaving at the end of the day with a sheaf of papers. Who would think he had the power that he did?
Tony Pro’s habit of disappearing anyone who got in his way eventually caught up with him when he had the local’s treasurer, Anthony Castellito, murdered at his country home in the Catskills. Like Hoffa’s, his body was never found. But years later, an informant tipped the FBI to Tony Pro’s involvement, and Tony went to federal prison, where he died in 1988 of heart failure.
More on the mafia in New Jersey:
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